Fetching a Coal

This feather and fan baby cardigan is a free pattern offered by Lion Yarn.  Find it on

My husband and I frequently lament the quick death of traditional language. With the onslaught of pervasive modern media and the phenomenon of nomadic American families, it isn't really surpassing, though, that high school students look befuddled when a teacher says, "A stitch in time saves nine," or uses irregular verbs such as "striven" that "don't sound right" to students. This past Sunday my husband, who is an unfailingly dutiful son, made the trek to the country to visit his 88-year-old mother, even though he was plagued by an upset stomach.  When he got up to leave, after an uncharacteristically short visit, his mother said, "You've just come to fetch a coal." This is an old-timey expression that derives from times when a neighbor stopped by to borrow a hot coal to light a fire and couldn't dilly-dally (love this old expression, too) for fear of the coal burning out.   When my husband returned home, he discussed his mother's words with me, and I immediately thought of my own recent visit to The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA) conference in Concord, NC last weekend, one which was slightly more extended than a trip to fetch a coal but still not nearly long enough.

As I've reiterated many times in my recent blog posts, since the beginning of the school I have been overwhelmed by the sense of too much to do and not enough time. While I enjoyed a recent knitting retreat in the mountains a little over a week ago, I returned home to piles of student papers to grade and a three-day commitment to attend an educational workshop in Charlotte. I have to say that after three days of listening to educational philosophy sold in a tidy package, I was a bit exhausted--so much so that I nearly forgot about the TKGA conference.  When I remembered the event on Saturday morning, the fact that I hadn't signed up for any classes and that my energy was flagging wasn't an encouragement to attend, either.    

But, die hard knitter that I am, I hopped on the highway, and I have to say that when I'd spent a little time perusing the booths and seeing the offerings of classes and events, I wished I'd planned a little better and decided to make a weekend of it.  Of course, one reason I didn't do just that is that I'm hoping to save enough money to attend Vogue Knitting Live in New York this coming January, but we'll see. . . .

Even though my trip reflected a lack of foresight, I did gain much from my sojourn to the conference. Going to this event allowed me to

-learn about a new amazingly soft and beautiful yarn named Millamia that was developed by two Swedish sisters and to find out about a yarn shop, Bella Filati,  where it is sold.  This shop is located in Southern Pines, the town where my niece and her family just moved.  Hmmm, maybe it's time for a visit to see her new house;

-buy some very reasonable but wonderfully soft cotton and bamboo Lion yarn and to discover a free pattern to make using it (the feather and fan cardigan is shown above and is available on the Lion website);

-discover the wonders of knitting mini-beaded purses inspired by vintage designs, thereby affirming my suspicion that I am a masochist--as I had to buy a kit to create a small beaded bag to wear around my neck, a kit which includes mind-bogglingly Lilliputian sized needles;

-speak with Charles Gandy, a TKGA designer who gave me lots of helpful information about that organization's Master Knitter program--definitely on my to-do list for next year;

-run into a personable young knitwear designer from Universal Yarn who inspired me to continue my design aspirations; 

-discover that at these TKGA events budding designers can present their ideas to leaders in the knitting industry--on the to-do list for next year, too;

-reaffirm my belief that my love of all things fiber contributes so much to my inner peace as well as to my coping skills and that this love/obsession may lead me in new directions--if I'm diligent.

-decide that visits to knitting conferences/festivals/conventions/etc. should be affairs where one lingers, locales where any carried coals would ultimately extinguish themselves before making it home.  

Designer Charles Gandy offered some insight into the
benefits of becoming a TKGA certified master knitter.  

I need to make a pilgrimage to this yarn shop located in Southern
Pines, North Carolina to buy some Millamia yarn.  

Nancy Alison creates detailed knitted and crocheted purses
inspired by vintage designs.

When I returned home I did a little online searching and found a 30-day
mystery sweater knitalong created by designers at Universal Yarns.  I
made a special Sunday afternoon trip to Cottage Yarn to buy some
Universal Deluxe Worsted to get started.  


  1. What a lovely expression - to fetch a coal! I've not heard this before but am going to use it! After all language can travel forwards as well as backwards and may be it's time to use and reintroduce some of the rich expressions that are so much more vivid than their more commonplace equivalents. One of my father's grandmother's favourites when it was a question of going out in the rain was to say "We're not made of sugar!" which I really like & do use myself. Glad your trip at the weekend was so inspirational! Looking forward to seeing the mystery sweater emerge! E xx

  2. Such an interesting post! I loved learing about the expression of fetching a coal - have never heard that. It is so nice to hear how much your crafting means to you and that it provides a peaceful time (albiet a little frustrating at times) when you are so busy with your profession and family life. Always look forward to your posts. Midge


Post a Comment

Popular Posts